Anke Schroeder/Pixiabay” alt=”Photo by Anke Schroeder/Pixiabay”/>
23 September (UPI) — A coronavirus recently discovered in Russian bats can infect humans and may be resistant to vaccines, prompting researchers to call for the creation of vaccines to prevent all similar viruses.
The Khosta-2 virus is a sarbecovirus — a lineage in the coronavirus family that includes SARS-CoV-2 — that was first found in samples from bats near Sochi National Park in Russia from March to October 2020 , although it did not initially appear to be a threat to humans.
Khosta-2 has already shown that it can infect human cells and is resistant to COVID-19 vaccines, according to the study published Thursday in the journal PLoS Pathogens. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, emerged in Wuhan, China around January 2020.
Michael Letko, a Washington State University virologist and corresponding author on the study, said in a press release that research shows sarbecoviruses like COVID-19 are circulating outside of Asia, “even in places like western Russia.”
“Genetically, these strange Russian viruses looked like some of the others that had been discovered elsewhere in the world, but because they didn’t look like SARS-CoV-2, no one thought they were really something to get too excited about.” could,” Letko said.
“But when we took a closer look at them, we were really surprised that they could infect human cells. That changes a bit our understanding of these viruses, where they come from and which regions are affected.”
Letko said the team found that Khosta-2 currently lacks some of the genes needed for human pathogenesis, but that it is at risk of recombining with a second virus, such as SARS-CoV-2, giving it could give this ability.
He added that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has the ability to “spill back” from humans into the animal world, where viruses like Khosta-2 “wait in these animals with these characteristics that we really don’t want to have.”
“Right now there are groups trying to develop a vaccine that not only protects against the next variant of SARS-2, but actually protects us from the sarbecoviruses in general,” Letko said.
“Unfortunately, many of our current vaccines target specific viruses that we know infect human cells or that pose the greatest risk of infecting us. But this is a list that is constantly changing. We need to expand the design of these vaccines to protect against all sarbecoviruses.”